BRAN CASTLE - Restitution Complete | Romania

The Bran Castle, first built by Teutonic Knights in 1377 to protect Kronstadt (Brasov) from Ottoman attacks, became a key guard post at the Carpathian Mountain pass for the Austro-Hungarian Empire's hold on Transylvania.

Gifted to Queen Marie of Romania by local citizens after Transylvania became a Romanian province in the early 1920s , she restored it into its present state. In 1950, after expropriation by the Communist government, the castle became a national monument to which was added a museum of restored village buildings.

Bran Castle - back to Habsburg family

On June 1st, the castle will be officially opened to the public. On Monday, the Bran Castle became property of the Habsburg family again, the handing over and reception report being signed at 12 AM, Corin Trandafir, the solicitor representing the heirs, told Agerpres. Three years after the actual restitution of the Bran Castle, during which time it has been managed by the state, the tourist site is now privately operated.

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On June 1, the castle will be officially opened to the general public. The inauguration will include a private castle tour and the launch of the Chateau – Bran – Merlot 2007 wines in a limited edition (10,410 bottled) and Cabernet Sauvignon, a collection edition (1,377 bottles), with the original signature of Dominic of Habsburg.

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The castle will welcome visitors as of June 1, the opening hours being 9AM – 6PM (except Mondays when it closes at 12 h). A special children’s programme – ‘The Medieval School’ will be organised at the Bran Castle after the opening, consisting of heraldic painting and iconographic, fencing or archery workshops.

According to Corin Trandafir, the castle has been refurnished both with personal items of the Habsburg family and with new ones. For a month, the Bran Castle visiting hours were been changed to allow for the items to be moved from the castle to the Medieval Customs Museum and for the castle to be furnished with items brought over by Dominic of Habsburg. 

The Medieval Customs Museum neighbouring the castle will be opened by the representatives of the Ministry of Culture on May 31, this year, Dorin Ioan Narcis, Director of the Bran Museum Complex, told Agerpres. A special moment of the inauguration of the museum will be the bringing of the case containing Queen Maria’s heart. The heart in the small case brought by the Queen from England will be wrapped up in the sovereign’s flag and laid down at Bran, where it will remain until February 2013 when it is set to be given back to Dominic of Habsburg. 

The case will be shown at the Bran Medieval Customs Museum in a special vault in Queen Maria’s bedroom. Together with the heart, another item that will be lent to the Bran Museum is an icon Queen Ana gave the Romanian National History Museum in May 2007. 

‘I would have liked the state’s collections to be kept in the castle, but we cannot afford to finance a castle without enjoying some of the benefits. About this particular aspect, the other party (the Habsburg family – our note) was not as flexible as I would have liked them to be. However, the family is willing to keep the castle open to the public and possibly to sell it to us. The debate will take time. I insist on an objective evaluation to the liking of both parties’ Culture Ministry Theodor Paleologu stated at that date.

The Bran Castle was returned to Dominic of Habsburg-Lothringen in May 2006.

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The Parliamentary Subcomission for Investigations decided that the document by which the Bran Castle was retroceded is considered to be null since the retrocession has not been made accordingly to the requests of the Law and the Constiturion. The Subcomission report will be forwarded to the Plenum of the Chamber of Deputies which is to give a verdict through a decision, so that the Parliament would have to inform the Government, the Highest Court of Cassation and the other institutions.

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Romania’s culture minister Adrian Iorgulescu said the return of the country’s historical monument Bran Castle to its rightful owner was legal, adding that positions of members of the parliament committee investigating the retrocession are “political”. He also said it was not the ministry that returned the castle, but the castle’s manager, Narcis Dorin Ion.

File:Castle Bran 02.jpg
Detail of Castle Bran, in Romania. The castle is widely publicized as "Dracula's Castle", and certainly looks the part, but has, at most, a tenuous connection with the historical Dracula (Vlad the Impaler). He may have stayed there once.

File:Bran castel secret passage.jpg
This is a secret passage in the Bran Castle (aka Dracula's castle) connecting the first to the third floor. It was discovered while restoring the castle. It's very narrow and steep.

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